Sticking to one Blog in the beginning helps you keep focus

 

I feel that there is a movement among bloggers that suggests that one is never enough and that you should cast the net wide.

I never try to suggest that one way is right and another way is wrong but what I can say is that I’ve seen a few people get crushed by taking on more than they can cope with.

Sticking to one Blog in the beginning helps you keep focus

Sticking to one Blog in the beginning helps you keep focus

 Image Source: Flickr by Zhao ! /Kodomut

Perhaps of disappointment was my friend’s blog.

He had started out with a concept (and in retrospect he’d pitched it at a very narrow age group). He gave this blog a lot of love for several months and it outperformed my effort quite drastically.

 

But..

 

He didn’t stop at one blog.

He went on to create another blog in a more general niche and in doing so had totally destroyed his ability to concentrate on the important part of updating. He’d been too proud to ask for help.

Before long I noticed both blogs falling into neglect.

After a point, one of the blogs stopped being listed and the other one began to gather dust.

 

Why is that bad?

This blogger had invested a lot. He’d bought an expensive theme (Genesis no less), gone to the trouble of hosting on HostGator, buying the domains and generally putting a lot of man hours into the project.

 

Were these projects actually failing?

No. They just hadn’t hit the prime time.

I’m not sure what the motivation behind stopping was but I sensed that a lot of this had to do with not having the time.

This individual was caught up in a failing business (more of the bricks and mortar kind) in the real world. This individual had also been part of a few other failed businesses and had become accustom to pushing the quit button too soon.

 

So what do I recommend?

Don’t overstretch your empire within the first 6 months. I’ve been blogging for over 12 months on a single blog and have only now been able to find time to write a guest post for another blog. You have to allow some “bedding in” time and it might be longer than you think.

 

Building capability and efficiency

Body building Woman

Image source Wikipedia by Angelus

In the early life of the blog, regardless of what niche or what purpose it serves, you will have to experiment to find the best ways to connect with your audience and find the best ways to provide value to them.

Building up capabilities is important. These are the services you provide, whether you are awesome at delivering tutorials, helpful articles or simply being an opinion that people look up to. Capabilities are the things you do well and you’ll need a few of these to be unique and stand out.

Efficiency develops over time. If you do the same task enough times, you become better at it and faster. In order to be ready for your next blog, you need to have built a suitable efficiency in your existing blog to be able to dual run (or more).

 

Startup burn

Starting up the first time can be difficult because you are a little pregnant of thought in how you go about things. Coming around to start again with something new gives you a false sense of security because you think you have learnt the lessons of what went wrong first time around and know how to start quicker. This doesn’t always pan out the way you might think.

 

Why is that security thought wrong?

Invariably you are going to start writing a new blog about something either mildly different in delivery or totally different to what you have blogged about before. You built up the knowledge about the subject you are writing about in the now, but not about the one you are about to be tackling. There is going to be a learning and experimentation period.

So whilst you might have been able to gain some technical knowledge that will help you with the administration of the site, and whilst you might have developed better ways of generating content ideas and conducting yourself socially, you might not be able to replicate a quicker path to success. You might be in this slow build up to being recognised again as someone who knows what they are talking about and passes out that value effectively.

This is why perhaps it is better to give a bit of time to settling in your prime haunt before you start your poltergeist antics elsewhere. Part of this is that you learn quite a lot from the observations of others and how they go about their business and you’ll be better placed to mimic similar kinds of successes.

 

Butterfly blogger

Butterfly amidst yellow flowersFor a short time I had interest in Asian ladies (specifically from the Far East) and there was this brilliant term that ladies from the Philippines phrased about men who jumped from one lady to another. They called them “butterflies” because they bounced from one flower to another.

This could also be true of bloggers. The danger here is of trying to simultaneously exist in too many places at once and essentially spread yourself too thin, or worse, abandon projects you were working on over periods of time to go and chase something else.

There are two trains of thought;

  1. The first train is that if something really isn’t working, you should move on.
  2. The second train of thought is that you could be claiming defeat too soon and that victory could be just around the corner if you keep trying hard enough.

Both of these trains have merits and demerits in equal measure.

The first train should be liberally applied if:

  • You have really epic failed, it has gone stupendously badly, and it shows no sign of getting better.
  • Where the experiment will potentially cost you a princely sum and therefore is not economic to pursue.

It should be avoided if:

  • You see green shoots.
  • You aren’t trying hard enough.
  • You haven’t sought some help or opinion.

The second train should be boarded when:

  • There is visible sign of activity and with some inspiration you can keep the cogs turning where the formula is easily repeatable.
  • You have not got the time to chop and change (if you are doing the blog thing as a second income, part time hobby or occasional dalliance).

It should be avoided if:

  • You’ve really tried everything.
  • Nobody else has had any visible signs of success with this strategy.
  • It’s just plain wrong and an overwhelming number of people are telling you so.
  • You can’t drum up the enthusiasm any more.
  • The topic is dead.

As you can see, there are swings and roundabouts to both trains.

 

Say that you are succeeding on the green shoots with blog 1…

Your blog is growing but you’ve had this 6 month itch to run something else. The question you should ask yourself is:

“Am I going to endanger my current prospect by spreading myself too thin?”

You’ll know this answer if you have one of the two following mindsets;

  1. I have plenty of flex to write more content. In fact, my current blog has a month of content pre-written and scheduled up.
  2. I am struggling to meet my commitment to my current audience and often feel guilt about not posting enough.

 

The importance of enough startup time

To get a good impact on your new blog it is important to start with a lot of valuable content because as I have discovered and as many new bloggers discover, starting in a vacuum and asking people to stop by can often be the “chicken and egg” situation.

As an example, it took a long time for me to engender comments from my community. They only started to appear after I had one particularly kind passer by make the effort and he informed that my captcha was not working properly which was putting people off. My comments also have come from the “reciprocity” angle, the fact that if I make an effort and contribute, that may be rewarded in kind. When you have enough in the way of social signals, passers-by are more inclined to feel safe. I wrote an particular article about the fear of going first because there is some psychology behind this.

In order to see green shoots you might need to wait a bit. Patience is a virtue.

You have to factor for lower returns initially because often the people you are pitching towards don’t know you are there. You are going to have to figure out ways to “tickle their fancy” proverbially speaking.

All that guano takes time and you are going to be doing that whilst running your other blog (or God forbid, blogs). Common sense dictates that either you’ve worked out enough efficiency to be able to cover all the bases or you’ve got somebody covering your back.

 

Covering your back

If you’ve committed to blog 2 or blog “N” and you don’t have the protective barrier in place to make sure your other blog doesn’t suffer whilst you are moonlighting, you need a little talk with some friends.

Before thinking about this, it is worth considering the return and the potential pitfalls involved with someone reaping the harvest for you.

 

Emphasis on content

Normally it is the content that needs the work. You need fillers to cover the gaps for a while so that you can bring up the efficiency on blog 2. You have some options here, some require more commitment than others, some cost more than others.

 

Buy some written posts

You can buy them cheap on Fiverr for $5. There are some inherent problems with this approach however in that there are some restrictions imposed by some of the sellers, the quality of the article could vary significantly and you might not be getting good value for money.

On top of this issue, you might try to go cheap, finding articles from writers from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. The problem here is that whilst the articles will return in English, not all of them will be legible English. You may need to hire someone to proof and expand these posts and even then, the idea might be a reject.

The commitment level of this approach is quite low but the administration is potentially quite high.

What this doesn’t include:

  • Image creation
  • Video creation

You may have to source these elements separately with similar administration requirements.

 

Hiring a content creator

You could go a bit more pro and hire a part time content creator to keep your posts endowed, they may supplement this creation by sub-contracting further writing or image help but as long as you pay them appropriately they’ll be able to do a better job than just some written posts.

They’ll need access to your blog and be allowed to have a nose about on what you’ve done before. You might have to explain the ropes so that they know how you like to present information and maintain a consistency that your audience prefer.

There are two distinct flavours of content creator:

  1. One where you allow them to take full attribution of all their content with author links.
  2. The creator is a ghost. In other words, they assume your blogging personality and write in your style and take no attribution.

Ghost writers cost more because they can’t add this work to their portfolio. They essentially hand over their intellectual property rights to you. They are useful where you don’t want to look like you were away. They can even respond to comments like you would, allowing no break in service.

Content creators have a moderate commitment but generate low administration burdens. I’d recommend you keep an eye on the quality just to be on the safe side. You don’t want somebody steering your ship into the rocks.

 

Courting with a site manager

To enact the full solution, hiring a website manager may be the way to go. Administration is ultra-low because this guy or gal will outsource numerous tasks and keep your ship running smoothly; they have done this before and know how to keep the site on the straight and narrow. They may even be able to make the site run more efficiently due to their background knowledge. Your commitment to allowing this individual to fully manage your site is high. You have to place a lot of trust in them, they will have access to all of your admin areas and have a possibility to scoop a lot of your privately acquired good ideas which they’ll most likely pass onto future clients or use in their own projects. They won’t come cheap either and expect them to be busy with other clients too!

 

But of course, all of the above is useless if your site doesn’t make money

Kermit in a bath of money

Image Source: Pixabay by LoggaWiggler

That’s right folks. If you are not even turning a magic bean on what you are doing you shouldn’t consider paying to keep something running in your absence, especially if you have no sell.

All of the above scale up on expenditure and if you are not making anything to justify that holding pattern, why spend anything?! If you can find friends or well-wishers to do it for free, that’s a better way to go but you should plan your implementation with some serious thought before making a commitment.

 

Headboy’s Summary

I hope that from what I’ve presented above you will think carefully about the implementation of your next blog and will make sure not to spread yourself too thin.

 

Related Article

When to Expand your Blogging Empire

 

Karma, A pause from the ordinary

I don’t intend this article to preach to you because nobody likes a blunt force preach about something they don’t altogether agree with. This is why often there is quite a backlash about “A” list Hollywood stars talking about Religion or Politics because we want them to be a blank slate. If we know they put their name to something we don’t agree with, that taints our relationship with them.

 

Karma, A pause from the ordinary

Karma A pause from the ordinary

I’m an Anglican, Church of England Protestant. That’s me. I don’t go to church so that might in some way infer that I don’t practice (but I take it with me a bit like a snail takes its home on its back). I’d like to think if pressed I’m a good Christian.

Reincarnation

I believe in reincarnation, mostly because I have a strong feeling I was somebody else before this life. Reincarnation has something to do with Christianity but it is not exactly a religious fit. It’s more a separate belief because you believe in reincarnation without being religious. Basically I believe my soul, or a facet of it, was second-hand. I have a vivid calling to South America even though I’ve never been there. On rare occasions I get flashes of being on top of a sacrificial altar on a South American Ziggurat (one of those cool ass square pyramids). I know it sounds crazy but I believe I either was sacrificed or was the honcho behind that sacrifice and that image has been burned into my soul.

Karma

Getting to the nub of this particular article I believe in Karma. Karma is more a part of eastern religion, central to many Asian beliefs but I feel it is a great fit with Christianity. You basically have two flavours of Karma, good and bad or if you want to look at it more scientifically, positive and negative. If you look at Karma in the latter way you could argue that whilst positive Karma might have a good outcome, it may not necessarily be good for everyone and vice versa with the negative side. By sending out good Karma you hope to receive that in return, or at least balance out any negative Karma you may have generated.

 

Reciprocity (getting back what you give)

Many people who exist within social media try to depend on “reciprocity”, the reciprocal return of a deed well done. In basic terms, being thanked for helping, by being given something of even or uneven weight in return.

 

Why am I mentioning this Karma?

I was out and about on Sunday in a coastal town known entirely as Worthing. The UK is experiencing some glorious summer weather at the moment (possibly the best I can remember bar one year where the council had to water a great many trees). Worthing is a coastal town with a pier, tons of shops in a rather well situated shopping centre and a good vibe. There were a lot of people out on Sunday and I was with a friend on a merry walk around the place.

Part way through this walk I caught someone out of the corner of my eye with a bicycle. This person was a middle aged bohemian looking (that’s code for great unwashed) woman. The particular thing that caught my attention was the fact that she looked utterly miserable, on the verge of crying. She had spotted that I had noticed her and started giving me a sob story but something in me decided that this wasn’t worth the listen and I marched on. My friend did the same and didn’t challenge me not stopping, in fact they did the exact same. I made a comment, “Yet another Random” before moving on.

This incident lodged in my memory though.

I felt some guilt that I hadn’t been more Christian in my sympathy.

Putting myself in that person’s shoes I would have been even more miserable if someone had just blanked me like that, if I had genuinely been upset, that is.

 

The turn of the knife

My parents have pre-conditioned myself and my sister to stay clear of these types for many reasons. The top two include; personal safety being at the top, followed by the knowledge that if this person is an alcoholic or drug addict, I’d simply be fueling their suffering. There is also that point of thought that if you keep supporting those people with the begging bowls, you would drown in bowls eventually.

I made a split second decision, I chose no. Don’t bug me on my day off. Bug somebody else.

She could have been putting it on. That’s what I told myself… But as you can guess, I still have some doubt there.

My Karma serving was somewhat delivered in reverse. I was feeling awful that day because I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to another stinking migraine. It took me until 10am to shake it after 2 rather vocal vomits. I was still feeling as sick as a dog on my drive to Worthing, I’d only had two fingers of a KitKat to resemble breakfast and lunch because I was too nauseous to go for anything besides liquid. Obviously I didn’t drive with the full-blown headache and light sensitivity (because that would have been stupid). Needless to say someone was not looking out for me on Sunday.

 

Being charitable

I have noticed that charities have had to try harder to earn their crust nowadays. There have been a recent spate of stories on the news and on special programs like Panorama about how charity money is not really going to the people who need it most. This, among a series of other factors, has caused a slump in takings and some charities have taken a hit from a surge in people not consigning their tributes to the cause.

The sheer amount of charity is staggering in the UK. We have an industry for it almost. There are many charities that feel very corporate and take big cuts of that charity income to spend on expensive advertising campaigns and other frills. There could be claims of misappropriation, of cloaking as a goodwill but coining in on the cause.

Other than just sheer number, many people have grown thicker skins to the over-exposure of crisis on the television and on the internet. We grow somewhat weary of appeals when we are suffering financial crisis in our own land. We are kind of wondering when someone is going to start giving back to us.

 

Reasons to doubt validity:

Britain operates with a class system. It is still here but it has fragmented quite a lot from the time before the 1st world war.

You still have:

  • Upper
  • Middle
  • Working

But you get a few things in between:

  • Upper Class Old money
  • Upper Class New money
  • Upper Middle Class
  • Middle Class
  • Lower Middle Class
  • Working class
  • Benefit class  aka non-working class
  • Common or garden vagrant (shiftless character of ill intent)

Because we are the 6th richest country in the world and because we now work towards a more service based industry having no big stake in manufacturing or minerals, we have a somewhat uneven proportion of classes and they have blended somewhat.

It can often become difficult to determine the origin of someone from a specific class based on what they look like, we’ve had a few MPs (members of parliament) who’ve dressed like bag men and ladies in the past, so how people dress bears no semblance to where they fit in that fragmented picture.

There are many cases of middle class people, dressing up like homeless people, making a lot of money from begging in London. Organised crime makes a lot of money from begging rackets and fake charity collections. There is a whole industry based around fakery and hoodwinking.

 

In conclusion

Was I a bad person for blanking that woman? Did I deserve my slice of negative Karma in reverse? Am I guilty? Will Jesus be taking one Jesus point off my tally? What’s your thought? Similar story? Similar guilt pang?

 

Actionable advice for Actionable advice

Actionable advice for Actionable advice

Actionable advice for Actionable advice

Image Source: Flickr by Josh Swannack

The key thing you should strive to do if you want to drive value for others and impart useful knowledge is to write an article with actionable advice.

If you were to write a “how to guide” without actionable advice it would be entirely useless. Actionable advice is defined by its ability to be put into “Action”. Normally the best kind of advice is simple but effective.

 

Key tips:

 

Follow the less traveled roads

I often see bloggers spin already established facts. The kind of information that any noob can find out about just be a few quick searches. Rather than do that, why not actually make an in depth guide that a person can follow and that results in either a time saving or some kind of win. You’d be surprised how these sorts of post have a longer lasting effect in keeping people on the page.

 

Inspiration is not always enough, a solution is better

You want to harvest the kind of solution where you can help somebody desperately in need, as this is the kind of solution that you want to feature in your arsenal of posts. People like receiving help when they are in need, and they’ll remember you if you can help them.

 

Lessons to be shared

Often when solving problems on our blogs, we run into countless lessons where we can help somebody else by revealing what we did. Obviously if there is some form of competitive advantage through monetary gain, you don’t share those ideas so freely until you don’t have to rely on that exploit any more.

 

Be Specific

Often if you are borrowing an idea from someone else (from another site) make sure it works for you first before you share it. If it is in anyway specific to something like a Theme or a certain way of coding, that you don’t think will work for your whole audience, make sure you clarify those points. For example; if this particular hint only works on Blogger, it is important to make sure Blogger features in the title. You don’t want to annoy people by not being explicit. If they find out half way through your article that this only works with one specific platform, they’ll have wasted time, might even throw a shoe at the monitor.

 

Then, be more Specific

A lot of times what I find that is missing are the specifics. This is where you can mop up. A specific solution to a specific problem is a great way of capturing a small but thankful share of audience. What I’m talking about is a specific set of criteria. What happens in a very specific scenario. This is the time not to be general.

 

I can’t find it on <insert search engine here>

If you ever go in search of a solution to a problem you’ve had issue with and don’t find the solution through the keywords you used in the search engine, write those keywords down and highlight that need as something you aim to fill. Often you can be quite lucky in finding gaps in obscure problems and capitalising on providing a solution. Not only do you fix your problem but you help fix somebody else’s problem too and they might show you some gratitude.

 

Solutions love company; two’s company, three’s a threesome, four is plenty, five is an orgy…

Often by borrowing ideas from others but presenting them in a central nexus, you can generate some great ways to keep people on your site. Say that one of your how to guides gets some interest, try solving another problem along the same vein and link it in with what you already have.

 

Help out even when it doesn’t relate to your niche strategy

Sometimes you don’t have to give advice that is relevant to your niche in order to intrigue people when they visit your site. Whilst it is good to keep a fairly narrow channel of content, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally venture out of your realm if what you present is actionable and helpful. If you can help somebody out of a jam, they’ll remember you and they’ll place a relationship between you and rewarding advice which acts as an incentive to return.

 

Headboy’s homework assignment:

Next time you are specifically trying to fix something on your blog and you don’t find the solution with the keywords you are using:

  • Note down the exact phrase you used
  • Find the solution by other means and make sure it works
  • Create a guide using those keywords

In the words of Rodney Copperbottom and Big Weld; “See a need, fill a need!”

If you are seeing this badge, this post was created specially in 60 minutes

Fighting the brain strain when blogging

Writing for long periods of time can actually be quite taxing. Bloggers especially may be required to press out a lot of writing content over a short space of time in order to keep good momentum.

Fighting the brain strain when blogging

Fighting the brain strain when blogging

Image source: Pixabay by bykst / Kai Stachowiak

Some basic biology

Humans can maintain a taxing level for a long period. Writing requires you to expend a lot of brain power. The brain in the Human physiology is the hungriest element of the energy expenditure. You require re-oxygenating your brain more often when you are using it and it consumes more calories as a result. We lose 80% of our heat through our head, mostly to keep it cool. If you have ever experienced sun stroke you know how bad it is overheating your brain.

We Humans have developed a diet that requires protein. This protein is required predominantly by our brain. Without protein and certain base minerals we can run into problems.

The brain also needs rest. It needs down time.

 

How to give your brain some down time

In order to rest there are a number of things you should consider.

  • You are trying to avoid over stimulation of the brain (no video games, no TV, No mobile phone, no intense music, no pornography, no internet).
  • Your brain needs time to cycle down because neurons can be firing a long while after you’ve been in a hyper stimulated state.

 

Ways to calm your brain

Tranquil

Image Source: Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

Meditation

Meditation is a common way of calming your brain, by controlling your breathing and putting your mind at a resting state, you’ll be able to return to situations calmer of mind.

The yoga way of meditating normally involves you sitting with your legs in a Buddha style, your eyes closed (or sometimes staring at a candle) and your arms elevated with elbows bent or in a prayer style with your palms touching. You have to control your breathing which helps settle your core. Advanced Yogis can rest in this state for hours, heart beat at an all-time low. When in a yoga style meditation you become somewhat aware of everything around you.

I meditate in the bath. This is what Albert Einstein used to do. Let your mind wander.

Taking a nap during the day can also be a great way to rest your mind. It has to be a comfortable, quiet place with no distractions.

Many artists and writers go on retreats. This is normally a place where there is very little going on, away from the city, away from most of civilization. Some where calm and out of the way. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like as long as you are isolated and in calm surroundings.

 

Tacit (physical) distractions

Often if you go on a walk (short or long), do a 10 minute dance, do some exercise, clean your dishes, do some ironing or anything that requires physical concentration, this means your mind can be put on the easy switch.

Your body likes to help out at times, when you can start using the parts of it that rely on instinct or muscle memory, your cognitive centre can take a bit of a back seat. This is a great way to zone out of worries.

Driving, riding a motorbike, horse (Donkey, Elephant, Great Dane) or motorcycle are all included as tacit distractions.

I personally like a good walk even when it is raining and cold.

 

Negative factors that can affect your brain

Stormy Weather

Image Source: Flickr by Flytox

I am a migraine sufferer. It is a hereditary problem I’ve had all my life so I’m no stranger to dark rooms and time to rest my brain.

Triggers for me have included the following:

  • High barometric air pressure
  • Having a virus
  • Emotional stress
  • Occasional high blood pressure
  • Being dehydrated
  • Missing meals or having long periods between the usual routine
  • Certain rich foods including chocolate
  • Lack of sleep
  • An addiction to Caffeine

 

High Barometric air pressure

This affects me normally because it brings on stormy weather and it is normally hot, gets me dehydrated quicker and puts pressure on my nut (head). Low pressure is generally relieving, funny that!

 

Having a virus

If I have anything that constricts my nasal passages, the pressure within my head can cause me to have a migraine on top of the cold or cough that I’m suffering.

Viruses are more common in places with poor air circulation and a high number of people per square meter. They are especially common where people don’t cover their nose when they sneeze, don’t use anti-bacterial gel to wash their hands or just don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet. Apologies for pointing that out. In addition children are excellent incubators of viruses, especially around the toddler age because their immune system lets everything through and viruses spread through children like wildfire. If you are working from home you have a bit more of a benefit against not catching a virus.

 

Emotional stress

This is probably something that everyone will relate to but emotional stress over long periods can make you unwell. I have had a fair share of this recently for a number of reasons. Emotional stress can very quickly lead to migraines for me.

What do I actually mean by emotional stress?

My issues recently have been matters of the heart, of the supposedly fairer sex.

Back when I was in high school I had a different type of stress because I was unpopular and often got bullied.

There are other types of emotional stress. People dying (especially close friends, significant others and family).

Unhappy situations. The feeling of oppression or monetary worries. Health problems. Anything that is otherwise weighing on your conscience.

 

Occasional or permanent high blood pressure

Because migraines are vascular in how they cause a very specific left or right pain on the frontal  lobes  (the headache is one of a number of symptoms including odd smells, an aura of light, light sensitivity, dizziness, odd tastes, nausea and hallucinations), having high blood pressure doesn’t help. I’m not as fit as I used to be in High School and this most likely doesn’t help my migraines.

Diet and exercise are important ways of combating high blood pressure but some people are pre-disposed to it. Raising your heart’s output for 30 minutes each day can keep you healthy and lower your blood pressure. It may not always shed your bulk but it is important for your brain because it release endorphins and serotonin, party juice for your mind.

Exercise is a great way to release the party juice. Often you might need some of that to give you a creative re-invigoration.

Perhaps not so mentioned but worth putting down is carnal pleasure. This also produces a lot of party juice for your mind and technically classifies as exercise! Win win!

 

Being dehydrated

Dehydrated is generally bad. If you think you are dehydrated it is already too late. A human of male or female (or in between) persuasion, should intake 2-3L of fluid per day (this doesn’t have to be plain water as you can intake fluids from fruit and vegetables as well). The brain when taxed is quite heavy on fluid uptake.

Dehydration isn’t only about the water. It is also about the saline fluids known as electrolytes. Your body requires certain salts and minerals alongside water to keep it operational.

A very keen observation of when you are dehydrated is when you see your urine darker than straw colour. If this is the case, you should get drinking asap.

Often dehydration can be accompanied by dizzy spells, headaches and the trots (diarrhea). You would be surprised how many people die in India and Africa because of being dehydrated because the dysentery element exacerbates the loss of fluid.

 

Missing meals or too long a period between meals

Your body likes routine. There is such a thing as circadian rhythm which is how your body regulates temperature, heart rate and chemicals in your body during the day. Often your body will expect food at certain points and will warn you when you’ve gone too long without input by giving you hunger pangs. It is important to keep a routine, not over-eat if you’ve not eaten soon enough and generally avoid getting hungry in the first place.

You should avoid foods that contain high levels of fat and sugar because they have the down side of assaulting your brain and generally making you sluggish.

 

Certain rich foods

A particular trigger of my migraines is foods such as chocolate and some occasional unknown ingredients.

In order for me to combat this I have to regulate the amount of rich foods that I consume to a rare treat and reduce the overall amount of processed food that I consume.

Processed food often contains preservatives that can mess with your body. They have no useful purpose but are mixed in to allow food to last longer on the shelves. Improving your home cooking skills will trim out all of these nasty chemicals.

 

Lack of sleep

This is the most obvious way to treat your mind badly. Humans need sleep to reset chemical flows in our brains. Often the problem you were having the day before can be undone by a good night’s sleep. When you get annoyed about something, your body is flooded with certain chemicals to put you in the combat frame of mind. Adrenaline is one such chemical but there are others. Your body flushes these out when you get a good night’s sleep.

There are many contradictory studies on how much sleep you should have. The truth is that the optimum time differs, person to person.

I am a traditional night owl, for me, being up until 1am is not unheard of. I normally get good rest if I am allowed to sleep 7 hours in a cool environment with no sound or light distractions. I used to live 50 metres from a busy train line and this wasn’t good for my mental state with the airhorn blaring every morning at 5am.

I also occasionally suffer from insomnia, I haven’t been too bad in the past couple of years but there was a period during my mid-twenties when I was not able to sleep properly for days at a time. Insomnia is not an easy one to solve. Often exercise can help, even going on long walks is enough to shake it but often  you just have to wait out insomnia and hope you are not a wreck for your first day of work.

A good night’s sleep include REM. Not the band (who are pretty good) but the phenomenon known as Rapid Eye Movement. You need to access a deeper sleep to acquire REM but this stage of sleep is the best at restoring your mental state to a more neutral standpoint. If you miss REM or get interrupted during it, be prepared to be in a foul mood again.

 

Caffeine addiction

Unfortunately for me, I am addicted to Caffeine. This also means that I am now not allowed any. Just like an alcohol addiction (which also isn’t good for your mental state), Caffeine is a bit of a nasty chemical in some respects. The problem with caffeine is that essentially it empties out your adrenal gland. I mentioned that adrenaline is a combat chemical, it gets you amped up. Caffeine intake actually messes with your body’s natural response to danger.

My body is no longer able to tolerate caffeine in big doses. I can drink a cup of coffee (fully caffeinated) but will be put on withdrawal symptoms within a very short span of time. It is not worth it. I don’t get the benefits of Caffeine that you get. I just get very unwell, very quickly. I had a period where I was fine during the week but I would crash over the weekends and this was all because of the amount of caffeine I was taking. I got into a bad way with my job because it had become rather stressful juggling the amount that I had been given. I got to a point where I had to request a secondment to get out of it because I couldn’t cope. Over the span of 2 years I must have had 17 days off work through migraine related illness. Days tucked up in bed feeling like death with a pounding headache and nausea, not to mention the light sensitivity and crazy hallucinations (actually I kinda enjoyed those hallucinations).

My GP spotted the pattern and it was as simple as giving up all caffeine based drinks.

I can intake decaffeinated coffee but I have to moderate the overall amount because even decaffeinated coffee includes a trace element of caffeine (0.5mg).

I would advise that you moderate your caffeine intake simply because caffeine can affect your sleeping patterns and bad sleep means eventual bad health. You should sleep when your body tells you. You should definitely not give Caffeine to your children.

 

Other issues

Eye Strain

Eye strain can be a problem. Eye strain has not been linked with migraines as I was informed by an optician but it doesn’t help when you are trying to write something. Changing the colour of your backgrounds or increasing the text size when editing can help. Getting your eyes tested and taking a screen break every 50 minutes is also advisable.

Turning down the brightness and contrast of your screen may also help.

Another left field tip is to learn touch typing and type with your eyes closed. I do this from time to time if I am getting tired. There are the odd few errors that creep in but it can be a bit more liberating. Dual screens can help to organise your thoughts better and give your eyes a bit of a work out from left to right or right to left.

Increasing font size can help, and if you notice, my blog posts have quite big fonts. This is to aid the reader. You can also increase the size of these in the browser to make them even bigger.

 

Back pain / poor posture

This is guaranteed to be a bad way to effect your writing. Bad posture in your spine and limbs is bound to cause issues. As you predominantly sit on your arse (unless you blog standing up) and potentially hunch or sit at the wrong angle for your wrists, this is going to cause problems after a while.

 

SAD syndrome

If you live in a country that has long periods without an even balance of daylight, you are considerably more like to suffer the ill effects of Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD syndrome). This is all to do with the way that light helps kick start chemical changes in your body. Special lamps can be bought that produce a high Lumens output. Common symptoms of SAD syndrome include a total drop in mood and motivation during the winter months.

Working eternal night shift can also simulate SAD syndrome because you never receive enough light to kickstart the production of melatonin (yet more party juice for your brain). Humans are not traditionally nocturnal and thus we need light to feel good. Too much light can also be a problem.

 

I’m sure I might think of more but this is getting rather long now. Peace to your thoughts all!